It wasn’t so long ago that DSLR manufactures spat out model after model, seemingly only within months of each other, in an attempt to fulfil the amateur photographer’s growing camera needs, as well as deflect the competition’s models being fired like rounds on a machine gun.
The first, and perhaps most prominent of these camera wars involved the pixel wars. With every release of a DSLR by one manufacturer, others would seemingly retaliate with the same specs if not better. Cameras started out at 2 or 3 megapixels, and within the span of a few short years evolved to a whopping 18 megapixels. These days these numbers have since doubled, and are steadily continuing to increase.
The difference though is that these days, manufacturers don’t seem to be as aggressive about pixels as they used to be. For a couple of years now megapixels seem to have stopped at 18MP, with the exception of one or two models reaching 36MP. And the industry seems to be showing no rush in changing these statistics. Instead, camera manufacturers are focusing on other aspects of their gear instead of just the pixels present on the sensor. And customers are benefitting greatly for it.
While most consumers, especially newbies and hobbyists demanded bigger pixel counts, many quickly realised that the quality of photos for average use rendered these numbers irrelevant. For the purposes of average-sized prints like 8x10s up to 12x18s, DSLR megapixels already delivered. Unless the photo was for large format, all the pixels were just a bonus.
These days, manufacturers no longer spit out models with the aim of out-MPing the competition. The more current focus involves processor speeds, hardware enhancements, focus-abilities, as well as improved video recording features. It is also shifting focus on making these high-powered gadgets as portable and convenient as possible. Enter the mirrorless cameras.
It is perhaps the mirrorless cameras that are defining the new landscape of photography. Now that the pixel wars are over, manufacturers are slowly giving more and more focus on size and convenience. Thus, these new generation cameras don’t only pack in the punch, but contain all the power in their small bodies as well. The smaller the cameras are, it seems, and the cuter, the more popular they become.
This now begs the question, have camera sizes now taken over pixel counts in terms of importance for the regular consumer? Are we now headed into physical size wars instead? With Fujifilm and Leica blazing the trail, many are now following in the direction of these sleek, small, powerful gadgets. If this is indeed the path that amateur photography is taking, then how will these new demands affect the world of good old bulky DSLRs?
Perhaps only time will tell if this new trend will bloom into a full-on war between leading manufacturers, like the pixel wars used to be. The only thing for certain is whether this becomes all-out competition or not, it can only bring good new things to the industry.
Julia Escano – Shoot The Frame